When people outside of school ask me what I do for a living, and I tell them I’m a Director of Experiential Education, they often respond by saying, “Oh, you do field trips.” Most people associate “experience” in education with trips, but that’s a limited understanding of the field. While many schools offer trips, not all schools are experiential. Like everything at Emery/Weiner, our experiential education program is different. We invest time and resources into training teachers in experiential pedagogy so they can make their classrooms spaces for embodied learning. Our travel program is different too. From the heights of a mountain peak in West Texas to the low shores of the Dead Sea, we design travel experiences that foster belonging, transform student learning, and promote our mission of personal growth and community-mindedness. Ultimately, we want our students to understand the difference between encounter and engagement, between tourism and travel, between a trip and a journey. Yes, I organize trips. But, I like to think of my job as helping serve the school’s mission and working — along with all our faculty — to facilitate the journey each student here takes through their school years and into life beyond Emery/Weiner. 

Casey Fleming
Director of Experiential Education

Our Program and Pilars

List of 2 items.

  • Our Program

    6th Grade: If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
    7th Grade: If I am only for myself, what am I?
    8th Grade: If not now, when?
    9th Grade: Where are we?
    10th Grade: Where have we been?
    11th Grade: Where are we going?
    12th Grade: Hineni: Here I am
  • Our Pillars

    Community Building: We help students build relationships with themselves, their peers, the faculty, and with people and communities beyond Emery's walls.

    Distinctive Experience: We go deeper and beyond what students might experience in other travel or vacations.

    Curricular Integration: We encourage critical thinking and design experiences to complement our academic curriculum.

    Moral Development: We support personal growth in areas like responsibility, integrity, and Tikkun Olam.

Experiential Education

List of 3 items.

  • 6th - 8th Grade

    Our middle school students attend two trips a year: a fall retreat and a Spring culture trip. 
    • The fall retreat acculturates students to the school, facilitates relationship-building among students and between students and faculty, and sets the tone for learning together throughout the year.
    • In the spring, 6-8th graders embark on a developmentally-appropriate overnight trip meant to deepen and extend their academic learning. Focuses have included things like a deep dive into the archeological history of Texas or using local ecosystems as a science laboratory. The culminating experience is the 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C. — an exploration of our civic history and the complexity of the American project.
  • 9th - 12th Grade

    Our high school students travel three times a year: 
    • Each grade 9-12th attends a fall retreat hosted at a local camp, led by the grade-level advisors and teachers. 
    • In  the winter 9-11th graders participate in outdoor education programs meant to stretch their boundaries, refocus the students on grade-level themes, and continue to strengthen the relationships they began to build in August. The 9th grade trip to Big Bend National Park is one of Emery’s legacy trips — it has existed since the inception of the school — and is designed as a foundational moment in the students’ intellectual, spiritual, and social journey.
    • In the spring, each grade-level embarks on a culture trip. In the past, we’ve done things like a Civil Rights Journey to the Deep South or a trip to Los Angeles focused on social justice and the history of Jewish integration into urban America. 
    All of our educational travel builds toward the final Anne and Don Graubart Poland/Israel trip. 12th grade students spend a week in Poland prior to spending three weeks in Israel. The trip to Israel, coordinated with the Alexander Muss School, occurs each spring in late April/early May.
  • Experiential Education in the Classroom

    While travel is a large part of our Experiential Education program, Emery also invests in training its teachers to use experiential pedagogy in their classrooms. We’re dedicated to sending a set of teachers each year to the Independent Schools Experiential Education Network (ISEEN) Teachers Institute, a three-day workshop that helps teachers use experiential tools in their content areas. Some examples of experiential education in the classroom include:

    Honors 10th Grade English: While reading Shakespeare’s Othello, students learn to sew! They design and embroider a family insignia based on the one that Othello gives Desdemona as a wedding gift — a major symbol in the play. Then they write their own backstory for their design in iambic pentameter to accompany their needlework. 

    7th Grade Science: In a service learning collaboration with the Galveston Bay Foundation, the 7th graders grow coastal tallgrass  here on campus and use their plants to enrich their curriculum. Then, in the spring, the students take the tallgrass to Galveston to help restore habitats essential to the area’s ecosystem. 

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Casey Fleming

    Ms. Casey Fleming 

    Director of Experiential Education and Upper School English Teacher
    832-204-5900
    Smith College - B.A.
    American University - M.A.
    The University of Houston - M.F.A.